Title: Shakespeare’s Library
Author: Stuart Kells
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Publisher’s Blurb: Millions of words of scholarship have been expended on the world’s most famous author and his work. And yet a critical part of the puzzle, Shakespeare’s library, is a mystery. For four centuries people have searched for it: in mansions, palaces and libraries; in riverbeds, sheep pens and partridge coops; and in the corridors of the mind. Yet no trace of the bard’s manuscripts, books or letters has ever been found.
The search for Shakespeare’s library is much more than a treasure hunt. Knowing what the Bard read informs our reading of his work, and it offers insight into the mythos of Shakespeare and the debate around authorship. The library’s fate has profound implications for literature, for national and cultural identity, and for the global Shakespeare industry. It bears on fundamental principles of art, identity, history, meaning and truth.
Unfolding the search like the mystery story that it is, acclaimed author Stuart Kells follows the trail of the hunters, taking us through different conceptions of the library and of the man himself. Entertaining and enlightening, Shakespeare’s Library is a captivating exploration of one of literature’s most enduring enigmas.
Oh, silly me. I thought I might learn something of a writer’s inspiration and the books he turned to time and again while writing Elizabethan era plays which have, in turn, inspired many writers across 400 years.
I was not captivated by Stuart Kells’ book, even as I realized it was about the many theories of where and what Shakespeare’s library might be. Uninterested in the stories of charlatans and crackpot academic theories, I didn’t learn anything interesting. Only that there’s a mystery surrounding Shakespeare’s non-existent library and people will go to great lengths to prove their pet theory or feed their greed with forged papers and books.
Stuart Kells deserves plaudits for his research and his love for this mystery. He approaches the entire subject with a great deal of humor and large grains of salt. And kudos to him for listening to people who have clearly gone off the rails over this mystery.
For people looking to learn something really interesting about Shakespeare and his time, I highly recommend Globe: Life in Shakespeare’s London by Catharine Arnold.
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